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Film / Berserk! (1967)

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Berserk! is a 1967 British B-Movie and the penultimate film of Joan Crawford. It was one of the many low budget horror films that Crawford starred in during the 60s hoping to keep her career afloat.

Crawford plays Monica Rivers, the ringmaster of a struggling circus. One evening, a tight rope performer's rope snaps and he is hanged in front of the crowd. Shockingly enough, this proves rather good for business; hundreds of people start buying tickets for more shows. As business continues to boom, suspicion falls on Monica—especially after it turns out that the accident may not have been an accident at all.

Not to be confused with the classic arcade game Berzerk or the Dark Fantasy manga Berserk.


  • Alpha Bitch: Matilda.
  • Berserk Button: For Frank, it's mentioning him killing a man previously (in self-defence). He also hates being touched.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Matilda's death.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Assumed with Angela as she comes home expelled from school. But she is happy to work around the circus.
  • British Stuffiness: The principal of Angela's charm school. Durando probably counts as well.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Monica keeps troublesome employees like Matilda because their act is good.
  • Cat Fight: Between Matilda and Wanda.
  • Circus Brat: Angela, sort of. She was around the circus initially but was sent away to various boarding schools.
  • Circus of Fear: Played with. The Great Rivers Circus is essentially a normal circus...except for a murderer on the loose. And the performers are the ones who are in danger.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Mostly averted. Dwarf Bruno is a bit of a Deadpan Snarker and not very polite, but isn't a bad guy.
  • Deus ex Machina: Angela is killed when lightning strikes outside the circus.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Angela, at least by the circus people.
  • Excited Show Title!: The exclamation point in the title promises a story of thrilling terror.
  • Freudian Excuse: Angela has a good few of them: she was annoyed that her mother sent her off to boarding schools, the death of her father, Monica's lack of angst, and jealousy.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Monica, who has two men courting her in the course of the movie. The fortune teller also gives a speech about how she will never grow old. This does seem to imply that it's Monica's personality and attitude that men are attracted to rather than her looks.
  • Iron Lady: Seems to be Monica's persona she portrays to the rest of the performers.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Gustavo's act. He later gets Angela to replace his assistant.
  • Lady Drunk: Wanda, Gustavo's assistant. Angela replaces her because she's too drunk.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Monica, for a date with Frank.
  • Likes Older Women: Presumably Frank's excuse for turning down Matilda in favour of Monica.
  • The Lost Lenore: Monica's dead husband and Angela's father.
  • Love Triangle: Between Monica, Frank and Durando. Of course it doesn't last that long as Durando is killed.
  • The Napoleon: Bruno.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: When Matilda is performing, she has a vapid girlish smile on. Quite at odds with her off-stage persona.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: The clowns at the circus are nice normal people.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Durando is killed as a love triangle begins. Frank gets killed too.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Presumably the only way Angela got up into the stands unnoticed to kill Frank.
  • Product Placement: There's a stand for Pepsi Cola visible in one scenenote .
  • Red Herring: Monica herself though it's established before The Reveal.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: Lazlo and Matilda's act. It's how she meets her end.
  • Shirtless Scene: Frank gets one when Matilda visits him in his caravan.
  • Stepford Smiler: Almost lampshaded. Although Monica and Frank have rowed, she reminds him to put on a wide smile when performing in front of the crowd.

Alternative Title(s): Berserk